June 24, 2018 / 1:18 PM / 5 months ago

Highlights: EU leaders discuss migration in Brussels

Flags of 16 EU countries are seen ahead of an emergency European Union leaders summit on immigration at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 24, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A group of European Union leaders gathered in Brussels on Sunday to discuss a common approach to asylum and migration.

Below are the leaders’ comments on arriving for talks.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

“One large part of today’s discussions will be protecting the outside borders and how we reduce illegal migration to Europe. There will also be a discussion about secondary migration, how do we treat each other fairly inside Schengen, how can we find a reasonable balance.”

“We discuss this here in view of the European Council. But we know that at the European Council, unfortunately, we will not have a complete solution of the migration issue. That is why there will be bilateral and trilateral agreements, how can we help each other - not always wait for all 28 members but think about what is important to whom. This search for a ‘modus vivendi’ and continue to work on having a joint European solution is at the center of today’s talks. Work will continue in the coming days. Today is a advisory and working meeting. It is a first exchange, not more and not less. But regarding the question: can we get bilateral and trilateral agreements in the coming days, this meeting is very important.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez

“Our position is that Spain ... is fulfilling our commitments. Of course we are committed with the European Union, we are willing to reach this common response toe a global challenge which is the migration flows that are coming especially now from western Mediterranean and we would ask for the support from our comrades, other member states, in order to control better the flow that we are suffering now from the western Mediterranean.”

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel

“What is important for Belgium are controlling the external borders of the European Union. This is a prerequisite to safe the free movement of people in the Schengen zone. The second important point today is to make clear what the potential conditions are for hotspots and reception centers in line with international law. The third point is that it is very important to get an agreement on Dublin to guarantee solidarity and responsibility.”

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek

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